Saturday, August 21, 2010

How many bridal stores does it take?!

More dress shopping! Future mother-in-law (FMIL, not FML) hadn't done anything wedding related with us yet; I thought she'd be interested. Mr. P had barely gotten out, "Miss P was thinking of visiting some bridal..." before she let out excited squeaks. I think that's a yes. The night before the bridal appointment, the girls sat up until 2am pouring over the wedding binder. As a mother of two boys, she was happy to be included AND excited about the styles of dresses the next day.

Per the instructions from just about every bridal salon, I wore no make-up. After all, they don't want your make-up rubbing off on the white dresses. Jewelry, aside from my engagement ring, was left at home. My hair was pulled back to expedite matters and keep the static to a minimum. Compounding the ugly was my "winter tan," weight I didn't know I'd gained and a decision to wear glasses instead of contacts.

Ladies, a word of advice: You wouldn't shop for bathing suits and jeans when you look like crap. At least not with positive results... So don't do it when wedding dress shopping. Your self-esteem will thank you.


This salon was a breath of fresh air after the traumatic WV experience and the rushed appointment at the last bridal store. I grabbed the two previous Paloma gowns for FMIL to see and four new ones to try.

Again, the fuller skirt (approaching ballgown proportions) just doesn't work on my body. We can permanently pass on this one. Love it, but can't wear it. Next.

Ballgown, moving on.

The Palomas were lovely, but other dresses were more figure-flattering. Remember the champagne-colored favorite from the last store? Here I am wearing it (keep scrolling). You couldn't tell if I was skinny or hiding a baby bump. (This store also had a no photo policy but since I had tried it on at another store, she permitted it. *shrug*)

Distracted by the ribbon choker...

(personal photos)

Moving toward gowns with ruching and draping, the third gown was another Paloma. It lacked the wow factor until paired with its ruffle pleated bolero. Very modern and dramatic! The bolero really made the gown and I couldn't see wearing it all night. Without it, the dress was too ordinary. Moving on.

source for all three

All the Paloma gowns ruined me with their light-weight, tee-shirt comfort feel and lower price. But they lacked the personality I was craving. Then I found a gown with "architectural details" (what I dubbed anything with dramatic folds, draping or ruching).

source for both

This Enzoani ("En-ZONE-i") took the best of the Paloma gown and made it more interesting. It had the wow factor (without requiring accessories). I loved the asymmetrically gathered folds that fanned out off the left hip into the skirt and train. It fit like a glove off the rack. The train wasn't too long; I dreaded a long train. Flipping over the tag, I winced. The price was more than I thought it'd be, nearly $1k more than the Palomas. The fabric was a heavier weight, not ideal for the spring/summer event we now found ourselves planning.

And to show how far I've come, I must disclose: I asked to try on a veil. Oh how far I've come! Wearing a veil with the gown made it all the more real. What's the rule of thumb with trains? Does it trail the train - by how much? The long veil was too formal. The fingertip veil worked much better with the contemporary style. The ribbon border wasn't right; raw edges were more appealing.

Even though this was my fourth visit to a bridal salon, it was the first time I felt comfortable and optimistic. We made great progress, mostly because of FMIL's eye for clothes and her much-needed objective opinion. My own mother would have been an excited mess over any dress...


A few weeks later, we tackled yet another bridal salon (#5 if you're counting). I had been looking forward to this salon since I've known about its existence since I moved here almost ten years ago. Many of the designers I love (Pronovias, Melissa Sweet and Watters) are available here.

Before our evening appointment started, we had the run of the store, rounding up dresses for a half an hour... mostly from the Pronovias racks. I was thrilled with the selection and was able to zero in on the shapes and fabrics that appealed to me. So many gowns that I would willingly consider - a far cry from the very first appointment. FMIL had a very good sense of my style by this point. Even though her tiny frame was surrounded by tulle and organza, she held her own and pulled a few dresses we sent to the dressing room.

Unsure of the protocol, the two of us got started without the owner after a polite wait. (She was assisting the previous clients purchasing samples.) We picked my least favorite and worked our way through a few passable gowns until the salon owner was available. A satin Melissa Sweet gown that shared my name sadly did not work. (It wasn't my style but how cool would it have been to wear a dress with the same name?!) Also nixed was Melissa Sweet's Dora. The fit was odd, especially across the bust, but I loved the swiss dot fabric.

source & source

Once I had the first Pronovias gown on, I felt much better knowing that a brand could fit my body so well off the rack. Every Pronovias dress fit like it was custom-made. Impressive, easy to visualize and cheap (no alterations!). While they fit beautifully, the elegant gowns lacked whimsy or a certain specialness.

source for all three

The Medea (above) was the best of the bunch. Very fashion-forward with a crumb-catcher neckline, obi sash and train with an inverted V of 4 tiers of pleated silk - my favorite part. The train was longer than I wanted but it would be bustled most of the night. The owner demonstrated how we could still showcase the pleats while it was bustled. It was a statement dress, very couture - modern and at the same time hinting at a more vintage silhouette. Stylistically, it was a touch outside my comfort zone. I wasn't sold on the crumb-catcher neckline; I want to show just a little skin, even if it's not PC to say so. The positive comments and wow's from the peanut gallery (FMIL, store owner, employee and random brides) made it difficult to filter out how I really felt about it.


The other top gown was the Marisa 815, which I kept spotting online and thought I would love it on. And I did. It combined the sweetness of the Watters Austin gown with the Pronovias' signature structure and lines. It felt amazing on. Fit like a glove, hugged curves and accentuated my waist. Walking in it was a breeze. The skirt had a kick to it so I wouldn't trip over it all night and gave it nice movement. It was artistic, young, elegant and unstructured (raw edge on the tiers). It was an easy favorite. I wanted to twirl in front of the mirror but felt a little childish doing so. If we were leaning toward a museum or a refined garden wedding, it would work with either venue.

Two very different dresses...

(All personal photos unless otherwise noted.)

Did your ideal dress evolve as you planned your venue and other stylistic elements? Or did you build everything around it ?

No comments:

Post a Comment